I recently heard the term “character driven series” describing “Endeavor”, currently one of my favorite PBS shows. It’s not the first time I’ve heard the term, nor is it a term I haven’t used before myself. However, it is a term that lends itself to one of the best books I’ve read recently. A MURDER ON JANE STREET by Cathy Cash Spellman is due to be published on July 16, 2019. Now is the time to get to your local independent bookseller, library, or other outlet to get on the list to either buy or borrow this book. My first thought in reading it, before I was even 20% into the book, was “here’s hoping it’s the beginning of a series”. It’s one of those rarest of books, one that makes me slow my reading because I want to make it last. I want to spend time with the people and places of the book, helping them, or at least observing as they work to solve the mystery and bring about a satisfactory conclusion. Read on for my full review.
A MURDER ON JANE STREET by Cathy Cash Spellman features patriarch Fitz Donahue, retired New York City Police Commisioner and his Bleeker Street Irregulars. These include daughters Maeve and Rory, granddaughter, Finn, Maeve’s long time friend, Dec, and a host of others including Maeve’s business partner, Finn’s childhood friend, scientists, physicists and otherwise brilliant, computer savvy hackers who are intent on saving the world, or at least their corner of it.
The book itself is a combination of murder mystery and conspiracy theory, with conspiracy theory being the larger portion of the storyline. Fitz’s neighbor is brutally murdered one afternoon just after having asked him for his help and before he can meet with her for the details. Being a man of principles, Fitz feels obligated to look into the murder and this feeling is underscored by the cavalier dismissal of him by the current police detective who views Fitz as an over the hill cop who has nothing of value to bring to a modern investigation.
The story harkens back to conspiracy theories surrounding Hitler’s faked death and the possibility it was an elaborate plot to see the rise of the fourth reich to fulfill Hitler’s long term plan of world domination. Fitz and his dedicated band pursue the enemy using their unique talents and knowledge that includes Maeve’s second site which comes in flashes and visions as well as through astrology and a host of other mystic accoutrements, Finn’s talents of photography, Rory’s talent at research, and the scientist/hackers lead by Annie who use their computer and scientific talents to grasp the scientific discoveries that were made and then passed on by the Nazi’s and are now being prepared to aide in world domination.
Although there are a wide number of people who make up Fitz’s band of irregulars it is easy to tell them apart because they each are richly written with unique traits that help the reader see them as individuals. The science involved in the conspiracy theory is much less easily understood and, indeed, may not be possible. It is impossible for me to tell as I don’t have a tremendous scientific background, however these portions are well written enough that the reader can easily suspend disbelief enough to buy in to the concept if they are so inclined.
Interspersed in with these chapters are chapters that feature the writings of Fitz’s murdered neighbor, Mrs. W, from a diary she hid for Fitz in the event her murderers found her before she had an opportunity to meet with him in person. As in the chapter shifts between the band of irregulars, these pages aid in providing a more well-rounded picture of who Mrs. W was, her personality as well as her efforts during World War II.
Tension within the book builds steadily, leading to a well paced novel that pulls the reader through the book at a comfortable, yet increasingly urgent rate. I deliberately slowed my reading of this book because I wanted to spend more time with the people and the environment that has been crafted by Cash.
My thanks to Trident Media Group/The Wild Harp & Company Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
So, there you have my latest recommendation. If you decide to give it a read, let me know what you think. For now, as always, Happy Reading.